Say the word “hormones” to a group of women, and you’ll undoubtedly hear groans and jokes about coming unhinged for no reason, acne, bloating, and mood swings. While the symptoms of the monthly cycle of hormones are well-known, the effects of other hormones are not.
A contributing factor of growth in children, hormones also control ovulation and reproduction, contribute to weight gain during pregnancy, and cause weight fluctuations, bloating, and other symptoms during the monthly cycle.
Hormones are regulated by organs and glands such as adrenals, ovaries, thyroid, and pancreas. Gut health, discussed often through this newsletter, can also affect hormone regulation. When regulation goes off-track, there can be serious consequences.
According to Dr. Josh Axe, symptoms of hormone imbalance can include “infertility, weight gain, depression, fatigue, insomnia, low libido, and hair loss and hair thinning.” Hormonal imbalance can also include fatigue, skin issues, and PMS. Many people turn to synthetic treatments to combat this imbalance, but there are natural ways to do so without the potentially negative effects that can happen with prescriptions.
Balancing Hormones Naturally
Choose healthy fats. Our bodies were not created to consume man-made (Omega-6) fats such as vegetable oil. These seed-based fats (canola, soybean, safflower) have replaced the Omega-3 fats found in earlier (pre-1950), healthier diets. These saturated fats, the building blocks for hormone production, are necessary for hormone health and balance. Lower-quality polyunsaturated fats can be destabilizing and lead to inflammation.
Reach for coconut oil, real butter, avocados, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil (not heated, however), grass-fed meats, wild fish, and pastured eggs. Include probiotics which help the body produce vitamins to maintain hormone levels like insulin. Skip seed-based oils, margarine, shortening, and other chemically-altered fats.
Heal Leaky Gut. Not only does a leaky gut affect the digestive tract, it can also target the thyroid. When gluten particles leak through the gut into the bloodstream, it can lead to inflammation throughout the body. Stay away from processed foods, gluten, hydrogenated oils, and emotional stress, and consult a medical professional to create a plan to heal and maintain a healthy gut.
Sleep! Hormones work on a natural schedule, so follow a daily routine – wake up and go to sleep at the same time, including weekends. Get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Have a high protein/high fat snack before 7:00pm. Spend at least a half hour outside every day, if possible. Drink lots of water during the day (stop about two hours before bed).
Limit caffeine. Too much caffeine can affect hormone balance almost as much as not getting enough sleep. Cut back on coffee; add a tablespoon of coconut oil for a healthy boost. Matcha green tea keeps hormones in check and just might help with weight loss.
Look through the house. Use glass or non-coated metal pans (no teflon). Avoid heating or storing food in plastic. Use natural cleaners that can be made at home. Plants will improve indoor air quality.
And check bathroom cupboards. Beauty products can be a harmful source of chemical exposure. Try making deodorant and/or lotion! Recipes and instructions can be found online in a number of places including Pinterest.
While natural steps can be taken to promote hormone health, consult a medical professional and create a focused plan based on your unique needs and preferences. A healthy gut and balanced hormones mean a happier, healthier life.